“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” Anais Nin
Gaining insight into this reality as human beings has been life changing for me, and now within my coaching work. Often my clients and colleagues feel a sense of despair and frustration because their family, friends or colleagues don’t agree or support them as they try to improve their health through lifestyle and nutrition.
Perhaps sharing my understanding of what is going on here might help to ease the angst and indeed create the environment for deeper more impactful connections.
If you’ve ever travelled to other non western countries, you will be aware of the vast differences among cultures. Well, what’s interesting is that the differences among individuals is every bit as vast as these cultural differences are. We wouldn’t expect people of different cultures to see or do things as we would (well maybe some people do, but on the whole we accept their difference with ease), yet understanding that an individual is made up entirely of their own very personal and unique *thought system means the same expectation should be applied across the board of humans on earth.
It’s not a matter of tolerating differences in others, but actually it’s about understanding that it literally cannot be any other way. It is impossible given the way human beings work (in that their reality is a projection of their thoughts) to see things precisely alike as this is totally dependent on input – our parents, our background, interpretations, memory, selective perception, circumstances, our mood level and more. There are no exceptions to this rule. They say ‘variety is the spice of life’ but most people really don’t believe or understand that truth. But now you will. The trick in believing this is not to force yourself to think this way, but to see that from a psychological perspective, differences between people and the ways they see life make complete sense.
So with this understanding in mind, we can then see that it is futile to try to change others. And nor do we have to.
Problems within any relationship usually come about because we either think others around us actually do think in the same way as we do; or we think others should see the world in the way that we do because what we see is actually reality. Basically that means we think the way we see it is right and the only way to see things, and everyone else is wrong. Both of these misunderstandings cause conflict, resentment and confusion, which is never the breeding ground for connection and growth.
This new understanding makes it possible to be freed from a false idea that we need others to see things as we do for our own validation, and instead brings the joy back in to our differences. It also logically makes sense too that we don’t need to take personally what other’s do or say. People will spend a whole lifetime proving to themselves that their own personal version of life is valid, realistic, and accurate. That is the self-validating aspect to thought systems that trips us up all the time. We try to change someone’s mind by arguing with them or pushing our own point on them, but the fact is that all this does is push the other person even deeper in to their own thought system. Watch a carnivore argue with a vegan and you will see this all in action.
So within your own family or work place, can you see that it’s impossible for you to all see things in the same way? So why then do we feel that we have to create that place where everyone does see things the same way? It may have worked to keep us a part of the tribe for our survival as we evolved, however in the modern world it keeps us from seeing and accepting others as they are, and keeps us all stuck in our own limiting beliefs.
It’s such a perfectly innocent process and understanding it will actually bring us closer to those we know and love.
It helps us to understand others, and it also makes ourselves much more interesting and accessible. Truly understanding that our ideas about life come from our thought systems and do not necessarily represent reality, draws other people to us. All of us have a vested interested in validating our own beliefs, and we don’t like to have our own threatened or tampered with. So with this in mind, when you approach someone, not in an attempt to change their beliefs but with a genuine interest in and respect for their view of life, defenses drop and hearts open.
People who deeply accept the fact of separate realities, often have more fulfilling relationships, including with people they thought they could not possibly like. What used to be a sense of frustration and anger when someone had a view different to yours can be replaced with curiosity. And the more curiosity and understanding you have about how we work when it comes to thought systems, the more likely you will be able to have an impact on others around you. Because you’re freeing them to make their own decisions, without needing to compromise your own.
Understanding how this works opens up channels for deeper connections. When we know what our thought system is set to do – to validate our own and dig down even deeper in the face of difference – we don’t have to be tricked by it and follow that line of thinking. Because when we do, we’re up in our head waiting for a chance to spring forth our own argument. Instead of truly listening to the view point of others.
Listening is one of the most under rated skills human beings possess (in my opinion). We’re so busy justifying our own thought system in our heads and spewing it out on to others we rarely sit and listen to someone without anything our on mind. Have you ever been with someone who truly listened to you? You will know it because you will feel it. When you’re with someone who is interested in you and what you have to say without needing to change your mind, you connect in a way that allows defenses to drop and souls to connect.
This is the breeding ground of growth.
What I believe is what I believe, but I know there is always more to see. I also know that people are free to believe as they want and to live their lives as they want too. I don’t need to change anyone to have my views validated. And if I really want other people to be able to live from a freer mind not dictated and limited by their own individual thought systems, the best thing I can do is to bring to the table the opportunity for connection.
One of my favourite quotes from one of my teachers really sums this up well.
“You can change anyone’s mind. But first you need to open your own.” Michael Neill.
Could you see the benefits of understanding this in your life? Can you see how you’re really ok to have your beliefs about what to eat and what to value.. but so is everybody else? Would this change the relationship within your house or work if you accepted your partner or colleague believing differently to you, but still valuing their contribution and connection?
If you want to see how this works at a deeper level, please reach out to me.
Love Tracey xx
* A thought system is our collection of our entire life’s experiences that get wrapped in to our personal beliefs and is completely dependent on input. You can read more about thought systems here.